We’re getting the world’s largest duck-hunting camp.
July 31, 2002
I’m not too big on duck hunting, but I’m all for boozing it up, shooting guns and sleeping it off in the woods. I can’t wait until Gov. Mike Foster gets the White Lake preserve in order so I can take my vacations down there. It’s good to see my tax dollars at work, working for me for a change.
When we first heard about White Lake, the story was that BP Amoco, a benevolent oil company, looked deep into its corporate heart of gold and donated to the state a 71,000-acre marsh with exceptional duck hunting possibilities. Sen. Joe McPherson, D-Woodworth, said it sounded like Louisiana had just acquired an exclusive sportsman’s paradise for rich men only.
Foster said that was ridiculous. In order to secure the preserve, BP Amoco wanted a nonprofit board set up to manage it. Our nature-loving governor will sit on the board with some of his closest chums – his executive counsel Bernie Boudreaux, Nature Conservancy President Boysie Bollinger and Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Secretary Jimmy Jenkins.
Some wondered if the land would be accessible to the public. The governor said it might be open for hunting on a lottery basis. There’s also the possibility that the 111-square miles could be leased by groups on weekends at $25,000 a pop. BP Amoco is also willing to pony up $250,000 a year for the next five years and donate $500,000 in vehicles for the property, but they would keep the mineral rights to the property. (BP Amoco had considered giving the land to the Nature Conservancy, but luckily they decided against turning the land over to that bunch of bunny-hugging Bolsheviks.)
No one questioned the state’s acquisition of the world’s largest duck-hunting camp until The Times-Picayune did a little digging. They found that while the state secretly settled some lawsuits filed by BP Amoco totaling $36 million, the administration was also discussing the donation of the White Lake preserve, valued at $40 million. Both BP and Foster claim the events are unrelated.
Foster then went on his live weekly radio program and said he was tired of people trying to cast doom and gloom over the affairs of his state. He said he had made sure that everything had been done on the up and up.
In both situations – the acquisition of the land and the secret settlement of the lawsuits – Louisiana and BP Amoco were involved, and the timing of the events was completely coincidental. Although $36 million and $40 million are pretty damn close to one another in value, that, too, was a coincidence.
Let’s review: State secretly pays $36 million of tax money to oil company over lawsuits. Oil company donates $40 million worth of prime duck-hunting property to the state run by one duck-hunting governor. Governor serves on board of directors, along with his buddies, of a new nonprofit created to run the world’s largest duck-hunting camp.
Why would anyone see any of these circumstances as anything more than just coincidences – flukes of place, space and time? Foster doesn’t understand why anyone would consider a simple donation from an oil company and a secret lawsuit settlement concealed from the public’s views as anything but an act of generosity and goodwill.
I’m with the governor on this one. I don’t understand what all the fuss is about. Foster has even gone so far as to say he will talk to the Legislature about White Lake this week so that everyone’s on the same page. Maybe he can get the rest of our elected officials on the guest list for the new camp.
I know my tax dollars are being put to good use. I’m just glad it’s not being used for something foolish like raising teachers’ salaries, educating our children or raising us out of poverty.
Let all the naysayers holler. I’m double-checking all my camping gear, polishing my gun and sniffing out the finest corn liquor known to man. I just can’t wait to get out on that big-ass lake I helped pay for.
Where do I buy my lottery ticket?